SGA advocating for LEP change

Victoria BresnahanNews Editor & Tamonda GriffithsNews Writer

The Student Government Association sent a statement to the Undergraduate Curriculum Forum and the Liberal Education Program Committee members stating they are advocating for the LEP world language requirement to be revised.

“After comprehensive research and many indepth conversations with faculty, staff and students,” stated SGA President Alexis Zhitomi in the statement, “we have concluded that we are advocating for the world language tier requirement to be modified to: three years of the same language in high school with a grade of C or better; or level 101 at SCSU.”

SGA intends to lobby to UCF and LEPC members to advocate for the change. The organization held a forum on March 6 to garner comments from students on whether they wanted such change.

The organization stated it is not their responsibility, but rather the faculty and administration’s, to collect data to discern if the program works.

“Our role is to share stories, advocate for our academic rights, and promote success to graduation,” stated Zhitomi. “We understand that there are no quick solutions to these issues, but we are discouraged that the conversations around the world language requirement have seemed to stop. We ask that this issue become one of the  top priorities for LEPC and UCF to address.”

At both Eastern and Central Connecticut State Universities, students are given the option to fulfill the world language requirement by taking two semesters of a language. This is required at ECSU if a student did not take at least two years of a language in high school; CCSU requires three.

Students at Western Connecticut State University have to complete the introductory  II second-semester course for their language, or a semester of intermediate level and above if the student did not take three years of a language in high school.

According to LEP Co-Director Therese Bennett, to change LEP requirements the LEPC brings ideas to the UCF. The group will discuss the changes and UCF department representatives will bring the information back to their individual departments.

If approved by UCF vote, the proposed changes are sent to the Provost’s office where it is discussed and possibly approved.

Barbara Cook, professor in the department of Communication Disorders, said the concerns of students are heard and an investigative dialogue has begun.

The dialogue is primarily engaging with university members who are involved in decision-making on the world language, she said.

“I think what the Student Government is doing is appropriate,” said Cook. “They have a concern, they have generated a document to share their concern, and prior to them generating that document we did begin the process of investigation, but it’s a process. There has to be conversations and discussions.”

This is not the first time there has been a push to change the world language requirement.

According to a 2015 UCF minutes packet, an LEPC motion was put forth to reduce the Multilingual Communication requirement, or world language, to 3 credits at the 101 levels.

In addition, it was proposed the requirement would be waived for students coming to the university with a level-4 experience in high school foreign language.

According to a statement from the LEPC at the 2015 meeting, consistent anecdotal evidence that was collected from community college advisers and colleagues in the CSU system show transfer students choose other Connecticut schools to avoid the university’s world language requirement.

The World Language Department UCF Representative Christine Dombrowski stated at the meeting, “give us some data beyond hearsay and the anecdotal; there is none.”

In the following meeting, the UCF voted to postpone the motion indefinitely to change to 3 credits at the 101 levels. The motion to provide a waiver for level-4 high school students was not passed.

Michael Shea, an English professor and LEPC Co-Chair said when the UCF voted to not change the world language requirement in 2015, some believed it was important for students to learn a language because it is a “high mark” of an educated person.

According to the New England Commission of Higher Education, the university’s accrediting agency, a college, and university with a bachelor’s degree program must guarantee “all undergraduate students complete at least the equivalent of 40-semester credits.”

According to Southern’s Undergraduate catalog for the academic year 2018-2019, the LEP is a requirement comprised of 15 courses in three tiers that equate to 45 to 50 credits. Restrictions in a certain major can affect this.

U.S. universities that are accredited have a general education program, Shea said. The program is usually built to be a third of the credits required to graduate that are outside a major and electives, he said.

According to Shea, every 10 years NECHE assesses any changes made by a university in terms of its curriculum.

“In the case of general education requirements, the accreditation is also a big factor,” said Bennett, “because when they look at  us, when NECHE evaluates us, one of the things they will definitely evaluate is what we are doing with our general education program.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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